New Yorkers Who Use Drugs Report Changing Behaviors to Avoid Overdose
Study participants reported apprehension about the potency of fentanyl and the need to use drugs more cautiously in case they contain fentanyl. As a result, many people who use drugs reported using a variety of harm reduction strategies to prevent overdose, including test shots, buying drugs from a consistent source, reducing drug use, using fentanyl test strips, carrying naloxone (a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses), and using drugs in the presence of others.
The most common behavioral change reported was doing a test shot, or injecting a small amount of a drug to gauge its strength. A handful of people reported using test shots every time they injected, whereas others only used them if something about their drugs looked different or if they were warned that their heroin was new or potent.
Some participants reported using fentanyl test trips, a relatively new opioid overdose prevention approach, although the number of programs currently distributing fentanyl test strips is limited.
Some people reported using drugs in the company of others to prevent overdose, while others said they still preferred to use alone. Regardless, for most people who use drugs, their living situation often dictates where they use — for instance, whether they have stable housing, or are homeless and/or live in a shelter.
Experience with naloxone was widespread among people in the study. Over two-thirds reported carrying naloxone with them at least half of the time and several people reported being revived with it or using it on others. However, some people reported difficulty carrying naloxone due to judgment from others or homeless shelter policies that prohibit certain forms of naloxone.
“While nearly all study participants were knowledgeable about minimizing their risk for overdose and many reported using methods to reduce their risk, most were not consistent in applying these methods,” said CDUHR researcher Courtney McKnight, DrPH, clinical assistant professor at NYU College of Global Public Health and the study’s lead author. “Using methods to reduce the risk of overdose was often complicated by structural factors such as stigma, poverty, and homelessness, which were further complicated by dependence and the increased prevalence of fentanyl.”
If the substance user/dependent/addict has ‘all the gear’ available to inject substances for free, and clearly the self-awareness to ‘change behaviour’ revealed in the study undertaken; and can clearly self-manage their self-mediating (and/or self-harming and/or recalcitrant hedonism activities) then a Supervised Injecting Room is not only redundant, but a costly means of intruding on a clearly unconcerned with recovery drug user?
So, why would anyone use an injecting room? Perhaps only really to try out very much ‘unknown’ drug cocktail, so they can then better sustain their ongoing drug use… oh, and all at tax-payers expense, of course. In appears ‘saving lives’ can be done a lot cheaper, if saving lives was the agenda behind the ever-growing raft of Harm Reduction ‘options’ for law-breaking and self-harming drug use!
Ah, but the evidence is overwhelming now, that it really isn’t (sadly) about the saving and recovering of lives, but rather the normalisation and State endorsement of ongoing drug use.